Let Them Eat Pie: Mission Pie’s Baking Contest

The assembled pies, ready to be sliced up and tasted by the panel of judges. Photo by Joe Rivano Barros.

The assembled pies, ready to be sliced up and tasted by the panel of judges. Photo by Joe Rivano Barros.

Mission Pie had its 8th annual baking contest on Saturday afternoon, with 16 homemade pies (made by amateurs, no former or current professionals) entered to be judged by a panel of five: Lisa Ziebel, a Mission Pie baker; Josey Baker, of Josey Baker Bread at 736 Divisadero; Bill Niman, founder of the well-known Bay Area establishment Niman Ranch; and Christopher Hall and Bruce “Mac” McKenzie, last year’s contest winners.

Co-founder Krystin Rubin explains the rules to the panel of judges. Photo by Joe Rivano Barros.

Co-founder Krystin Rubin explains the rules to the panel of judges. Photo by Joe Rivano Barros.

The contest began back in 2007 as a collaboration between Mission Pie’s founders, Krystin Rubin and Karen Heisler, and artist Nathan Lynch. Back then, the front of Mission Pie was leased to Southern Exposure, and Lynch was an artist-in-residence who “wanted to do something pie-related,” said Heisler. Together, they started the pie baking contest, and ever since it’s become an event that Rubin and Heisler look forward to all year.

Contestants are asked to contact Mission Pie by August 29 (the day before the contest) with information about the pie they will be baking. They then show up at 1:30 p.m., submit their pie and list of ingredients, and wait around (or stroll through the neighborhood, or go to Dolores Park, or what have you) for an hour while the panel of judges taste tests each entry.

The assembled pies, ready to be sliced up and tasted by the panel of judges. Photo by Joe Rivano Barros.

The assembled pies, ready to be sliced up and tasted by the panel of judges. Photo by Joe Rivano Barros.

At 2:30 p.m., all of the pies are brought out to the front of the shop, where customers can taste each creation (gratis) and submit a ballot for the People’s Choice Pie. Besides People’s Choice and the coveted Best in Show, the judges are asked to think of three other categories for which there will be winners. At 3 p.m., winners are announced, goodie-bags awarded, and the crown passed to the next pie champion.

This year, the crown went to Olivia Thomas, who won with her peach blueberry crunch pie. The People’s Choice award went to Long Le with his pear pistachio frangipane creation. The three categories invented by the judges were Makin’ Yo Mamma Blush (awarded to a peanut butter cream pie by Jane Thomas), Baker’s Choice (for Deborah Carlswift’s apple blackberry sage pie), and Best Classic (given to the key lime pie by Chiara Madodowi).

All were given goodie-bags, but only Thomas was crowned by last year’s winners, a ceremony she’ll have to perform in turn when the tradition continues next year.

The assembled pies, ready to be sliced up and tasted by the panel of judges. Photo by Joe Rivano Barros.

The assembled pies, ready to be sliced up and tasted by the panel of judges. Photo by Joe Rivano Barros.

Mission Pie was quickly filled as crows gathered at different tables to taste test the free pies. Photo by Joe Rivano Barros.

Mission Pie was quickly filled as crows gathered at different tables to taste test the free pies. Photo by Joe Rivano Barros.

Baker Lisa Zeibel, who works at Mission Pie, trying the tomato pie. Photo by Joe Rivano Barros.

Baker Lisa Zeibel, who works at Mission Pie, trying the tomato pie. Photo by Joe Rivano Barros.

The lone savory entry: A tomato pie by Peter Shypertt. Photo by Joe Rivano Barros.

The lone savory entry: A tomato pie by Peter Shypertt. Photo by Joe Rivano Barros.

Josey Baker enjoying his role as judge. Photo by Joe Rivano Barros.

Josey Baker enjoying his role as judge. Photo by Joe Rivano Barros.

"I'm a pie lover, not an authority. But I'm looking forward to the contest," said Bill Niman. Photo by Joe Rivano Barros.

“I’m a pie lover, not an authority. But I’m looking forward to the contest,” said Bill Niman. Photo by Joe Rivano Barros.

Christopher Hall, one of last year's winners, contemplates the taste on his palate. Photo by Joe Rivano Barros.

Christopher Hall, one of last year’s winners, contemplates the taste on his palate. Photo by Joe Rivano Barros.

Bruce "Mac" McKenzie, one of last year's winners, testing the competition. He said it would be "unseemly" to have entered again this year. Photo by Joe Rivano Barros.

Bruce “Mac” McKenzie, one of last year’s winners, testing the competition. He said it would be “unseemly” to have entered again this year. Photo by Joe Rivano Barros.

People scooped a small piece of each pie to determine the popular favorite. Photo by Joe Rivano Barros.

People scooped a small piece of each pie to determine the popular favorite. Photo by Joe Rivano Barros.

"I said yes to a galette," said co-founder Karen Heisler. "But I said no to an apple crumble. I think the crust is important." Photo by Joe Rivano Barros.

“I said yes to a galette,” said co-founder Karen Heisler. “But I said no to an apple crumble. I think the crust is important.” Photo by Joe Rivano Barros.

The winner of the Best Classic Pie, a key lime pie by Chiara Manodowi. "This is the one I would want to eat the most," said Bill Niman. Photo by Joe Rivano Barros.

The winner of the Best Classic Pie, a key lime pie by Chiara Manodowi. “This is the one I would want to eat the most,” said Bill Niman. Photo by Joe Rivano Barros.

Winner of the Makin' Yo Mamma Blush category: a peanut butter cream pie by Jane Thomas. Photo by Joe Rivano Barros.

Winner of the Makin’ Yo Mamma Blush category: a peanut butter cream pie by Jane Thomas. Photo by Joe Rivano Barros.

An apple blackberry sage pie by Deborah Carlswift, winner of the Baker's Choice Pie. Photo by Joe Rivano Barros.

An apple blackberry sage pie by Deborah Carlswift, winner of the Baker’s Choice Pie. Photo by Joe Rivano Barros.

The pear pistachio frangipane pie by Long Le, winner of the People's Choice category. Photo by Joe Rivano Barros.

The pear pistachio frangipane pie by Long Le, winner of the People’s Choice category. Photo by Joe Rivano Barros.

The (free) pies were reduced to crumbs within 20 minutes by ravenous crowds. Photo by Joe Rivano Barros.

The (free) pies were reduced to crumbs within 20 minutes by ravenous crowds. Photo by Joe Rivano Barros.

Christopher Hall crowning this year's winner, Olivia Thomas. Photo by Joe Rivano Barros.

Christopher Hall crowning this year’s winner, Olivia Thomas. Photo by Joe Rivano Barros.

The assembled winners were given goodie-bags, and Olivia Thomas (center) received a crown she'll have to pass on in due time. Photo by Joe Rivano Barros.

The assembled winners were given goodie-bags, and Olivia Thomas (center) received a crown she’ll have to pass on in due time. Photo by Joe Rivano Barros.

Last year's winners, Christopher Hall and Bruce McKenzie, who took home Best in Show with their Gravenstein apple, fresh baby ginger pie. "You don't know how many free cocktails we've gotten from this," said Hall. Photo by Joe Rivano Barros.

Last year’s winners, Christopher Hall and Bruce McKenzie, who took home Best in Show with their Gravenstein apple, fresh baby ginger pie. “You don’t know how many free cocktails we’ve gotten from this,” said Hall. Photo by Joe Rivano Barros.

The aftermath. Photo by Joe Rivano Barros.

The aftermath. Photo by Joe Rivano Barros.

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